Recently Mitsubishi has been running ads for its plug-in hybrid SUV. There is a tag line in the ad that says the future just sort of sneaks up on you and one day you’re plugging in your SUV and it just seems normal. The distance between the future and today keeps getting smaller and we perceive change less and less over time. Complex problem solving, once only the in the realm of people with multiple PHD’s, now has usable tools that can be used by the majority of us now to do the same thing. Soon, we’ll ask “Hey Cortana, what do we do to fix the traffic crisis in Toronto?” and we probably won’t even notice, because it will be commonplace to let the machines provide the options and analysis. It’s not decades away, only months or years.
The biggest challenge is not technology. Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing pace and (in a term I like from Microsoft) being democratized. The bottom line is super-advanced tech is available to anyone for any reason at minimal cost. Did you know that Azure Machine Learning Studio is less than $13.00 / month and under $2.00/hour for running models? That’s less than a Big Mac, Shake and a Large Fry by the way and you’ll be smarter, not heavier. The new normal is to expect that Machine Learning will be taught first in high schools and then elementary schools. It’s a natural extension of data explosion to be able to process it into something meaningful, consumable and useful. The biggest challenge is getting over ourselves, realizing that technology like Machine Learning will be as pervasive as having a microwave in the kitchen, a smartphone in our hand or a car that’s getting ever closer to just driving itself.
Your business has data. Lots of it. It’s hiding all sorts of critical information that can make your business better. If you’ve acquiesced to having a microwave, smartphone and a smarter car… you’re 75% there. Take the next short step towards the future, before your kids do.